Rajarhat: Labour in a Developmental Landscape
January 18, 2011
Studies on globalization are concerned with the mobility of capital, labour and other resources across various geographical spaces. Proponents of globalization have focused on the shrinking of spaces and the increase of transnational flows of capital and social networks as one of the benefits of opening up economic borders. In other words, the myriad forms of mobility and the emerging social relations ‘from organization of work to formation of citizenship’ are some of the issues that studies on globalization have looked into. Studies on the sociology of mobility indicate the interrelations in the economic world where signs (information, symbols, images, aspire), space, and social subjects are considered to be mobile. For some, global technologies have replaced ‘place’ with ‘space’, and Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) has played a significant role. ICTs enable work units, work relations and workers to be mobile. The role and growth of ICTs has become synonymous with a new kind of development - a development that will ensure service jobs, in other words a jump to a post-industrial informational age. India has been no exception to this growth and expansion of IT - a new addition to the global production systems.
Swabhumi Workshop Report
December 12, 2011
Fieldwork in Rajarhat-New Town (located on the north-eastern shoulder of Kolkata, West Bengal) carried out by the Transit Labour Research Platform concluded with the Transit Labour Workshop. It remained primarily focussed on the case-study of Rajarhat, with at least four formal presentations exclusively dedicated to the theme. Lateral connections with other material and geographical contexts — China (Shanghai), for example, but also the UK and the USA among others — were, of course, productively drawn and the upshot was a more nuanced understanding of transit labour and how it operates in the space of new townships. Changing patterns of labour and mobility, its precariousness, were discussed conjointly with deliberations on ‘newness’: new political spaces, new processes of global-economic integration, new modes of urban reckoning. However, the discussion spilled beyond the confines of a purely logistical and formal engagement with transit labour to embrace knotty questions of identity-reckoning and belonging, dispossession and resistance, loss and re-deployment of livelihood opportunities. Such a denial of theoretical formalism had to, perhaps inevitably, be the fate of a research orientation which began with a concept: transit labour. For, as Georges Canguilhem tells us in La formation du concept de reflex aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, concepts are “theoretically polyvalent”; the same concept can function in quite different theoretical contexts. Ineluctably, then, discussion of a concept presupposes a distinction from standard discussions that merely trace a succession of theoretical formulations. If this is conceded, the workshop was a success.
Rajarhat: New Work Spaces
January 18, 2011
The transnational work spaces that have emerged in India as the product of transnational flow of capital, goods and services have remained confined to Information Technology and its related services. The emergence of these workspaces has led to a new category in the English speaking workforce - the knowledge professionals. They are the new workforce- the torchbearers of service oriented jobs in the back offices of various multinational corporations.